After six years, Little Falls Superintendent of Schools Curt Tryggestad is moving on, having been chosen to be the new superintendent in Eden Prairie. It’s difficult to see him go because he brought much needed calm, trust and eventually confidence to a school district that had experienced turmoil at the top for the previous 10 years.
Yes, he was helped by the passage of a special operating levy, but he never let that become an excuse for business as usual. Instead, he kept pushing to bring as many resources to bear as possible on the classroom, where education actually occurs.
That’s not easy. He had to balance all of the adult constituencies as well: parents, teachers, non-certified staff and taxpayers. And yet, in his quiet dignified way, Tryggestad was able to keep the school district solvent and moving toward improving the education of our children.
Now the Little Falls Board of Education is tasked with finding a replacement. We assume it will dig deep and do the due diligence required, so Tryggestad’s legacy is not squandered.
Among the questions we would like to see answered before a successor is chosen are:
• What does the teachers’ union where the applicant now works think of him or her?
• What does the local chamber of commerce think of the applicant?
• What does the local newspaper’s on-line archives reveal about the applicant?
• What can we learn about the applicant on Facebook and other social media?
• Has the applicant’s current school district shown any improvement in standardized test scores.
• What does the applicant think of how Tryggestad changed the classroom experience by giving iPads to all 5-12 students, and making teachers into “guides on the side” instead of “sages on the stage”?
• What is the financial condition of every school district that the applicant has led in the past?
• What measurable improvements has the applicant made in other school districts? (And then, double check to make sure it’s the truth.)
• What are the first changes that the applicant would want to implement in Little Falls?
Our advice: Don’t settle for the best conversationalist. Dig deep to find a true achiever whom the board finds worthy of being entrusted with the education of our children.